recycled plastic blocks

Efficient and Cost-Effective Architecture Materials: ETFE and Polycarbonate

Plastic is an underrepresented and under-appreciated material in the architecture world. It was only recently that the design industry had begun to see lightweight plastic polymers as a suitable type of primary material. There is now a growing understanding of the benefits of using plastic for a wider range of products. Technological innovations and advancements continue to expand the potential of plastic in various industries.

Plastic material can come in the form of polycarbonate (PC) or Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE). In practice, polycarbonate panels for greenhouses can provide improved structural integrity and energy efficiency.


Plastic in this form is recyclable, long-lasting, and based from fluorine. It was initially developed in the 1970s as a heat-resistant film coating for aeronautics. During the first decade of its inception, ETFE material was used to replace the polythene sheet that had been used to create greenhouses in the past.

ETFE is cost-effective, highly durable, and lightweight. They require minimal energy for transportation and installation. This type of plastic entered the architectural industry in 2001 because of its high level of solar control and ability to regulate environmental conditions in a structure. This ability is especially important to plant life inside greenhouses. ETFE has also been used in the development of offices, schools, sports stadiums, and transportation projects.

Polycarbonate Plastic

Polycarbonate is another type of plastic that is being used more often for architecture and construction purposes. It can maximise natural light entering a building and provide improved overall thermal efficiency and strength.

Panel Strength

The strength of polycarbonate panels is about 200 times greater than that of glass panels with only half of the weight of glass. These panels provide resistance against environmental factors like hail and falling branches. They also contain shock and fracture resistance properties to reduce potential expenses in repair and further maintenance costs. The high durability and strength of the panels mean they are especially useful when constructing residential projects, cultural buildings, and temporary structures.

empty plastic bottlesEnergy Efficiency

Polycarbonate panels deliver energy efficiency. They are cost-efficient because they are lightweight, durable, and have lower maintenance and installation costs with less required time. Panels are environmentally friendly and continue to deliver performance and quality for customers.

Design Flexibility

Polycarbonate material allows for several design options and possibilities. It is thermoplastic and can be formed and cut into various shapes and structures and bent form curved surfaces. It is also available in different colours of tint like blue and bronze and panels can have a textured or corrugated design depending on preferences.

Use of Natural Light

The translucent quality of polycarbonate material allows a certain level of daylight into the interior of a room without sacrificing privacy. The entry of natural light reduces the need for additional energy expenditures for lights and heating systems. Polycarbonate has become a part of everyday daylight delivery.

The versatility and design potential of polycarbonate panels is attractive for architects looking to create more cost-effective and energy efficient building structures. The advantages of using plastic materials for construction also extend to end-users and homeowners.